Note: These pants were provided by Bluffworks for review.
The Bluffworks Ascender Chinos were recently released along with a new travel polo and t-shirt. These chinos were designed as an update from their Classic Chino (our review) with a new fabric and security features. Being Bluffworks, they have 10 pockets (6 special travel pockets), which you either willlove or hate.
The fabric is 100% polyester and weighs in at 180 gsm. It has a soft hand feel and nice matte texture in most lighting (but does have a sheen in direct sun).
While these won’t pass for cotton chinos up close, they also don’t immediately give themselves away as technical. However, I do get a technical swoosh while walking in these. It seemed to quiet down a little with washing, so I wonder if it will go away over time. As advertised, they came out of the wash wrinkle free.
Fit & Comfort
Even though the fabric has no stretch content, the pants feel like they have a lot of stretch. In the hand, the stretch feels similar to many of my other chino style pants, but while wearing them, they feel like they have significantly more stretch. In fact, I had to size down one inch from my Gramercy sizing for the waist to fit.
With the right waist size in the Tailored Fit (they also come in Regular Fit), I still felt like there was some room in the thighs and hips. They don’t look sloppy, but they also don’t look as polished as my Outlier Futureworks (our review). If you typically find nice performance chinos to be too slim, you certainly should be able to find a good fit here.
The stretchiness of these pants also makes them very comfortable and forgiving for travel. I would go as far to say that I feel like I could hike in these if I had to. While the fabric here is actually lighter than that of the Futureworks (180 vs. 200 gsm), it feels thicker to me. This translates to them running a little warmer as well. They are breathable and don’t get clammy, but I wouldn’t pick them for the hottest weather. Conversely, I imagine they would perform better in cold weather.
With 10 pockets on these pants, you can protect almost anything you’d carry.
Inside both front pockets, there is a zippered pocket.
The right front pocket also includes a phone patch pocket and a small utility pocket (to hold a small knife or multi-tool). The left front pocket has a pocket on the inside of the pants with a velcro closure (for money or a passport).
Moving around to the back of the pants, the waistband above the right pocket has a phone pocket.
I’ve yet to find this type of pocket useful, but it doesn’t detract from the look or comfort of the pant. Finally, the left back pocket has a zipper right at the opening. I find that the zipper pull stays tucked away most of the time, but can occasionally pop out if you don’t get it stowed away.
Overall, the Ascender Chinos are a solid performance/travel pant. If you are looking for a chino style pant with travel security features, these are certainly the best I’ve seen. Even without all the extra pockets, these represent a great value at $125. With a little work on the sheen and sound of the fabric, these could come close to my Futureworks; I’ll also be interested to see how they compare in cold weather.